Hunger hits George's family

We provide all of our staff about $35 per year to travel back to their villages, and George our gardener has asked for $10 of this money to send home to his family in lieu of going himself. At first I told him no - the money is not just a pot of money to use for whatever - it is specifically set aside so that George can go home and be with his family. Further investigation revealed that George didn't want to go home because his family would expect him to bring so much from the city that he just couldn't afford the trip - even with the whole $35. So in the end we decided it was fine for George to just send money via his brother who is going back this weekend.

I just gave the money to George a few minutes ago and I asked him some more about his village. I have been asking him regularly how his family in the village is and whether or not they have enough food - because their have been warnings for months now. He had always assured me that they were okay - they are smart and grow cassava along with their maize, which is much heartier and more reliable than maize. But this morning it was a different story. This past weekend George met a relative who was visiting from his village and the relative told him many stories about hunger in his village. The people from his village have started going to Mozambique looking for food (refugees from hunger?) - apparently their is a bit more food in Mozambique so the prices are lower, but it is expensive to transport it back. George said that is what he expects his $10 to be used for. He said there are also people that are spending their days in the forest looking for edible roots - he laughed an embarrassed sort of laugh when he said this. Scrounging in the forest is apparently not something that proud farmers do. He told me that his own family is in trouble now too - their cassava didn't grow properly this year.

I asked George if he had ever been in the village when something like this was happening. "Yes, in 1999", he told me. I asked him if he had to spend days without eating, but he told me that he was in school at the time and the government was providing food for all of the students. Even his parents were okay, because the cassava had done okay in the drought. But apparently people around him were not so lucky.

Today, right now, millions of people within a day's, even an hour's drive in any direction are hungry towards starvation.

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